Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed mass incarceration documentary, 13th, won the award for Best Political Documentary in addition to the Best Director and Best Documentary Award in the tv/streaming category at the Critic’s Choice Documentary Awards.

The 13th opened the New York Film Festival in September, and was then released on Netflix alongside it’s theatrical run. The film traces the history from the US constitution’s 13th amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, to 2016, where one-in-three black American males can expect to be imprisoned during his lifetime.  It explores racial imbalances in the criminal justice system, and features appearances from author Michelle Alexander, activist Angela Davis, and Senator Cory Booker, among others.  At it’s core, this powerful film charts the path that shows the audience how history has been repeating itself from the Jim Crow era to the present.

“This film was made as an answer to my own questions about how and why we have become the most incarcerated nation in the world, how and why we regard some of our citizens as innately criminal, and how and why good people allow this injustice to happen generation after generation.” Ava DuVernay

The 13th marks DuVernay’s first feature length film since the critically acclaimed Selma, and is currently in theaters and on Netflix.

Here is the complete list of winners at the inaugural Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards:

Best Documentary (Theatrical Feature)
O.J.: Made in America

Best Director (Theatrical Feature)
Ezra Edelman – O.J.: Made in America

Best Documentary (TV/Streaming)

Best Director (TV/Streaming)
Ava DuVernay – 13th

Best First Documentary (Theatrical Feature)
Jack Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg – Weiner

Best First Documentary (TV/Streaming)
Jacob Bernstein and Nick Hooker – Everything Is Copy — Nora Ephron: Scripted and Unscripted
Deborah Esquenazi – Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four

Best Political Documentary

Best Sports Documentary
O.J.: Made in America

Best Music Documentary
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years

Best Song in a Documentary
“I’m Still Here” – Miss Sharon Jones – Written by Sharon Jones – Performed by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Best Limited Documentary Series
O.J.: Made in America

Best Ongoing Documentary Series
30 for 30

Most Innovative Documentary
The Tower



About The Author

The HBR Media Team is a collective group of black women filmmakers, writers, and studio/network executives who are passionate about bringing visibility to women of African descent working in film and television.

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